Barb Jungr - Love Me Tender - High Fidelity

Barb Jungr is surely not a beginner on the music scene. Her newest album, "Love Me Tender," will come as a surprise to all those who knew her alternative-cabaret period from just before her turning solo. "Chanson: The Space in Between" the compilation of French songs performed in English released in 2000 might have given us a certain foresight into what could be expected from "Love Me Tender". Then again, even then, you could easily feel the cabaret spirit. Yes, I believe it's the 2002 album "Every Grain of Sand" could be considered a chance of style. It was an album with standards... but they were from Bob Dylan. Shortly afterwards (2003), came another reprise of his work on "Waterloo Sunset".
Recorded in the Jonathan Cooper and Livingston Studios in November and December 2004, and released a little while later - 7th march 2005 - "Love Me Tender" truly is a work of art. It truly evolves what Jungr has already worked on in the past, while at the same time leads the beautiful, delicate and thrifty means of expression to their extremes. This is simply a beautiful album. The faux-slow, faux-calm songs thrive with hidden dynamics and tension. The disc features mainly arrangements of Elvis Presley's songs, two Bob Dylan pieces and one written by Barb Jungr and Adrian York. You have never heard such arrangements yet, even of those standards. You can't help but wonder if those songs weren't written especially for Jungr and her voice, after listening to her album.
The sound on the album is both precise and soft. Such attributes are most commonly found on LPs, which is a very high distinction. The first song, Love Letters clearly shows a magnificent, deep and very detailed stage. The viol that comes in the second minute has been set up in the further parts of the stage does not sound thwarted nor do you feel it's presence is lessened in any way. Jungr's voice has been gathered quite close, which might suggest that there is a slight lack of space. The tone and texture were, however, exceptional. Thanks to it's quality and intimacy, you can actually forget about the close perspective. My personal favorite and a piece of art is the Long Black Limousine, where the depth of the stage is staggering. And as the description clearly shows, it has been created artificially! The entering of additional instruments could be compared to a delicate noise (perhaps the hypothesis of an analogue recording was correct), which did sound just as recordings on an analogue Studer - not opposed to the primary sound, but interlaced with it in some organic way. The gongs moving behind the listener's head, from left to right, will help verify the correct phasing of the equipment. They should progress in a smooth and calm way. And the test for playing smaller signals - the first couple of seconds have a slight hum in the left channel.
All songs show a perfectly caught balance between the fullness of Jungr's voice and it's texture. It is very easy to make her voice sound in a heavy, even nasal way. If we can hear such an effect, it means something is wrong with our equipment - for example, the speakers could be too close the walls. Another example - the piano in Kentucky Rain was resonant, and yet you did not get an impression of listening to it with your head below the piano flap. It must have been gathered quite close, still that does not pose a problem. Quite the contrary, as with the strings in I Shall Be Released, it sounds as if from a slight distance in a clear, but not exaggerated way. Knowing, we are listening to a multi channel recording, it is hard not to wonder at the capabilities of the engineers.
"Love Me Tender" is - in my opinion - one of the best Linn Records' albums and generally a very good album. The technical side is awe inspiring, while it enhances the musical content. Which is exactly as things should be.

High Fidelity
30 July 2005